Data Protection
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Data Protection

Apple Facing Another Investigation in Europe

Big tech’s most privacy-focused company is facing three data protection complaints and one antitrust investigation

Photo by Nikolai Chernichenko on Unsplash

Privacy is a major part of Apple’s brand. So you might be surprised to learn that the company is dealing with multiple investigations by EU data protection authorities over allegations that it is breaching privacy law.

Most recently, Apple was referred to France’s CNIL over allegations that ad personalisation is turned “on” by default in iOS 14. The group behind the complaint, France Digitale, claims that this violates the ePrivacy Directive and the GDPR.

Back in December, I wrote about a similar complaint filed with data protection authorities in Berlin and Spain by privacy group Noyb.

Noyb says Apple shouldn’t be installing its ID for Advertisers (IDFA) on millions of iPhones without consent, arguing that it violates Article 5(3) of the ePrivacy Directive.

Here’s what Bennett Cyphers of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) told me about Apple’s IDFA:

“IDFA is a dangerous, privacy-intrusive tool that goes against Apple’s stated concerns about user privacy. It is designed to help advertisers and tracking companies at users’ expense.”

Apple’s changes to iOS mean that users will be asked to consent to being tracked via the IDFA. But the installation of the tracker, Noyb argues, also requires consent.

So that’s three ongoing EU privacy investigations into Apple — plus an antitrust investigation in the UK (which I covered in last week’s edition).

It’s fair to say that Apple does a better job of preserving people’s privacy than certain competitors. But the EU’s data protection authorities will need to determine whether the company is acting within EU privacy law.

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